Is this overkill for a tower server?

I’m shopping for a new tower server. This is going to run CentOS Linux. One model which is actually a workstation, but I think it would make a good quiet tower server has some of the following:

7x open PCI-e 3.0 expansion slots running at 16x
2x independent 1Gb RJ-45 ethernet interfaces

7 PCI slots? How would someone use all of that even in a workstation? Any practical use for a server with that many slots?

What is the point of having two ethernet ports?

Servers functioning as routers might want distinct network interfaces for their different networks. (You can do routing with nothing but separate IP ranges and maybe virtual LAN setup, but physical isolation between networks is one step more secure.)

Also, using Layer 2 bonding, the two interfaces can be combined in the server into a single logical 2Gbps network interface, if your server is likely to see that much LAN traffic. For instance, my plan for a homebrew network-attached storage server involves a bonded pair of 1000baseT interfaces to serve up to 2 Gbps to the various clients. (Multiple media players simultaneously, for instance.)

I don’t get the 7 16x PCIE channels, though. 7 slots, sure. (Although I can’t easily picture what you’d need 7 slots for.) Maybe 2 16x channels, if the server is actually being used as a high-performance compute engine using GPGPU* technology.

*GPGPU = General Purpose Graphical Processing Unit: using video cards as high-speed computation engines instead of making pretty pictures.

Good post!

Routers, interesting I’ve not thought about that in a long time with all the standalone routers on the market. But that’s an interesting idea.

So in a large user environment where the server is really getting hammers on the LAN, it sounds like Layer 2 bounding would be the way to go.

Wow, using a GPU as yet another CPU!

Oh, I forgot to mention it also has 10 USB 3.0 ports which as a workstation I guess if you didn’t want to use a USB 3.0 hub. But as a server, I can only thinking of maybe two USB 3.0 ports being used for a USB flash drive for booting/installing/major upgrades and another two for the keyboard and mouse. Almost forgot, one more connected to a weather station. :slight_smile: Of course, that leaves an additional five USB 3.0 ports for more external drives.

The lower priced tower has 2x PCI at 16x; 2x PCI at 8x/4x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0. It says GPU slots 2, so I assume that means there are four PCI slots plus another 2 for the GPU.

At one time I had a motherboard on a home desktop with two ethernet ports. Higher end consumer mobo - the two ethernet ports were aimed at gamers, among other things - LAN parties. You didn’t have to reconfigure the port you used at home when you took the machine to a LAN party.

I didn’t know that gaming requires connection speeds higher than WiFi. So you configure the second ethernet port to be DHCP?

I imagined that games only required text message packets be exchange with others on the same network. If they are pumping across graphics and/or audio, I could see that needing higher speeds.

I imagine in the future, perhaps a Thunderbolt PCI card might be useful to take up a slot. I don’t know if Thunderbolt is supported on Linux yet.

You clearly aren’t planning a network file server - all those slots and extra network interfaces make for a good one, PCI-E slots replace SATA with high end SSD, ie
Maybe add a fibre channel adapter instead of exclusively using ethernet, IE

couple of each of those and you easily fill most or all of 7 slots.

Edit to add, as a workstation i’d expect a few of those slots to be high end professional video cards, the rest SSD in use for a high end video editing rig.

Thanks for the info and the links. That would be some super fast I/O!

The new tower server (want a tower so it is quiet) was built to be a quiet workstation. That’s why I’m interested in it. For those interested, these are MicroHCP workstations made by Advanced Cluster Technologies:

At first I was looking at the Advanced Single Socket, which is the one with 7 PCI slots (and 10 USB 3.0 ports). But since I can get the same processor, RAM, and 8 drive slots with the Entry Single Socket, that might be a more suitable model for my needs. I also like that it includes IPMI. I watched a video on IPMI, and you can access the headless server even when it’s powered off to change the BIOS.

What I’m planning on using the new Linux server for is not just a file sever, but intranet, development and run a Hypervisor 1 such as KVM, so I can run several instances of different operating systems.

It wasn’t terribly long ago that trying to game over WiFi was a sign of a hopeless newbie. Granted, WiFi speeds are faster than were available a few years ago, but it also had to do with reliability. A wired ethernet connection is still more reliable than wireless.